Many adoptees who were adopted for charitable reasons discount barren-ness as being a valid motivation for adoption, as they feel that it puts too much pressure on the child to fill holes in their parents hearts and that no child can or should be asked to substitute for the first choice/dream child they can never be. However, other adoptees who were adopted because their parents were barren poignantly defend their parent’s need and discount people who adopt to “save,” since that puts too much pressure on the child to be grateful. In the case of a transracial adoptee there is – apart from whatever motivations the adopting parents had – the added pressure of having to be a walking poster child for international aid or liberal ideas about rainbow families. It all puts the child in an unrelenting position of having to deal with (or not) being responsible for the expectations of their friends, family, and society in general.
Speaking with a couple adoptees the other day who were both in the saved category and who discounted the barren-ness motivation, I realized that often the table is turned and at that table, the parents of these chosen ones could also be dismissed by them. It seems to me like a very hard thing to rationalize adopting internationally, and that really the only choice an adoptee has in order to live a peaceful existence is to champion the reason their particular parents had to acquire them.
Which made me think of this video. In it, a young John Raible asks adoptive parents what their motivation was. I recall watching this with my grown children just over three years ago, when I was first exploring these ideas myself and then being stunned and humbled by my daughter’s reaction to John saying this, “…What were you hoping to prove?… accomplish?…to raise another strong, proud, culturally connected individual of color that’s gonna help liberate their race or their people?”
It was one of those moments where my daughter made an audible sound, a sound of awe and admiration, the kind someone makes when recognizing they’ve heard something profound, and that sound caused the profundity to spread to me realizing my half Korean daughter is forced to appreciate the dilemma caused by my parents adopting.
So, transracial adoptees, what’s the motivation to adopt transracially? Is there a valid reason for making a child forever be an alien?